Vanessa Hilliard, Ph.D.
Victoria Dunn, Ph.D.
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Many people have heard of manic depression or bipolar disorder, but in reality they probably are unfamiliar with what it actually is. Manic depression is a mood disorder which can come in many different forms. Most who are familiar with manic depression are so because they know someone with this dreadful illness. This paper will attempt to answer and clarify many of the questions that individuals have about manic depression. These topics include the history, the causes, and the treatments that are available. It is hoped that this paper will serve as a guide for people who do not fully understand this mental illness. Chapter 1 defines manic depression and focuses on the behaviors associated with this mood disorder. According to Sommers (2000), two out of three times doctors fail to recognize symptoms of manic depression. The results can be disastrous. In fact, 10% to 15% of manic-depressives who do not receive treatment commit suicide (Harmon, 2000). Therefore, it is important to understand this disorder and know the symptoms associated with it. In addition to the behaviors, a brief history will be provided to help understand the origin of this mental illness. Chapter 2 will attempt to explain the three major causes of manic depression. These causes have continued to be a debate for many years. Many people believe that genetics is the explanation. In fact, several studies show that relatives have a greater chance of developing depression or manic depression than the general popula6on (Barondes, 1998). Others think that biological factors cause manic depression (Crider, Goethals, Kavanaugh, & Solomon, 1993). However, other researchers believe the environment is responsible for the disorder. Perhaps it is a combination of both genetics, biological influences, and the environment. This chapter will try to uncover the truth about the cause of manic depression. Chapter 3 will discuss the treatment options available. The most important form of treatment is medication. Lithium is the best known drug used for manic depression, but its side effects are numerous (Mondimore, 1999). However, today there are dozens of medications available to help treat manic depression. Another highly recommended treatment is therapy, which has been shown to be important for manic-depressives. When experiencing this mood disorder people are often confused and may feel the world is a place not worth living in. Therefore, it is important to have somebody to talk to about how they are feeling. In addition, some experts recommend electroconvulsive therapy as a last resort when all other treatments fail. Although highly criticized, it has been shown to reduce the effects of depression. The main objective of this chapter is to help people understand what treatments are available and to remind people that it is helpful to combine treatment methods for the best results.
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